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Spelling Review for Police Officer Exam Study Guide

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Updated on Mar 16, 2011

Most spelling questions will be presented to you in a multiple-choice format. You are most likely to be given four choices to select from; one, obviously, is the correct spelling of a word and the other three are incorrect. For a small number of questions, you might be given the option to select "none of the above." If this is an available choice, do not make the assumption that it is always the correct one. It is possible that a crafty question designer has presented this choice even if one of the three other choices is correct. While questions are generally not meant to trick you, there might be a few that are designed to make sure you are reading carefully and not just marking off answers in a pre-arranged pattern.

By presenting you with choices, the questions give you the opportunity to separate correct from incorrect spelling. This can be helpful because the word might look familiar enough for you to guess even if you are not sure, but if your knowledge of spelling rules is vague, the incorrect spelling may look as good to you as the correct one. There are far too many words in the English language with irregular spelling for you to memorize every word that does not follow a general rule, but a few general rules can be helpful. As you read them you will probably recall having heard them many years ago, probably as early as grade school. For instance:

  • i before e, except after c, or when ei sounds like a as in neighbor or weigh. Other examples: piece [of cake] but receive.
  • gh can replace f or be silent. (examples: enough, night, tough)
  • drop the e when adding -ing. Examples: hope becomes hoping, cope becomes coping, license becomes licensing, a related rule has to do with a final y, which sometimes changes to an i (example: study, studying, but studied)

One of the best ways to study spelling is similar to the techniques for homophones. After reviewing the rules and a grammar text, make lists of words that seem to give you particular problems. Flash cards can also be helpful and are easy to study from if you use public transportation on your way to school or work or if you have small stretches of free time such as a work break or meal period.

Using Spelling Lists

Some test makers will give you a list of words to study before you take the test. If you have a list to work with, here are some suggestions.

  • Divide the list into groups of three, five, or seven words to study. Consider making flash cards of the words you don't know.
  • Highlight or circle the tricky elements in each word.
  • Cross out or discard any words that you already know for certain. Don't let them get in the way of the ones you need to study.
  • Say the words as you read them. Spell them out loud or in your mind so you can hear the spelling.

Here's a sample spelling list. These words are typical of the words that appear on exams. If you are not given a list by the agency that's testing you, study this one.

achievement doubtful ninety
allege eligible noticeable
anxiety enough occasionally
appreciate enthusiasm occurred
asthma equipped offense
arraignment exception official
autonomous fascinate pamphlet
auxiliary fatigue parallel
brief forfeit personnel
ballistics gauge physician
barricade grieve politics
beauty guilt possess
beige guarantee privilege
business harass psychology
bureau hazard recommend
calm height referral
cashier incident recidivism
capacity indict salary
cancel initial schedule
circuit innocent seize
colonel irreverent separate
comparatively jeopardy specific
courteous knowledge statute
criticism leisure surveillance
custody license suspicious
cyclical lieutenant tentative
debt maintenance thorough
definitely mathematics transferred
descend mortgage warrant

How to Answer Spelling Questions

  • Sound out the word in your mind. Remember that long vowels inside words usually are followed by single consonants: sofa, total, crime. Short vowels inside words usually are followed by double consonants: dribble, scissors, toddler.
  • Give yourself auditory (listening) clues when you learn words. Say Wed-nes-day or lis-ten or bus-iness to yourself so that you remember to add the letters you do not hear.
  • Look at each part of a word. See if there is a root, prefix, or suffix that will always be spelled the same way. For example, in uninhabitable, un-, in-, and -able are always spelled the same. What's left is habit, a self-contained root word that's pretty easy to spell.

Spelling Sample Questions

To answer questions 1–6, choose the correct spelling of the word that fits in the blank.

  1. Office Solis purchased a new car and learned that her ________ is more expensive than for her old car.
    1. insurance
    2. assurance
    3. insurence
    4. insurrence
  2. We will ________ go to the movies tonight.
    1. probly
    2. probebly
    3. probably
    4. none of the above
  3. After returning from leave, Sergeant Abu said he felt ________.
    1. terriffic
    2. teriffic
    3. terrific
    4. tarrific
  4. We sharpshooters had the greatest number of ________ target shots.
    1. accurate
    2. acurate
    3. accuret
    4. accurit
  5. Because we work in a large city, we must learn how to ________ park our vehicles.
    1. parrellel
    2. parellel
    3. paralel
    4. parallel
  6. Our academy instructors warned us not to use ________ force.
    1. exessive
    2. eksessive
    3. excessive
    4. exccessive

Answers

  1. a.
  2. c.
  3. c.
  4. a.
  5. d.
  6. c.

Ways To Improve Your Spelling

  • Learn groups of synonyms for words.
  • Learn new words in context.
  • Memorize common word roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
  • Create and use flashcards regularly.
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